Marshawn Lynch spent his Wednesday visiting the Raiders facility as he considers a return to the NFL, a league source said.
Former NFL punter Pat McAfee of Barstool Sports first reported the news.
The visit marked an important first step in a possible union between Lynch and his hometown team.
What happened in that meeting pushed a long process further down the line. Lynch told the Raiders he plans to return to professional football, NFL Network reported later Wednesday afternoon.
The proud Oakland native retired after the 2015 season, and the Seattle Seahawks still hold his rights. Lynch still has two years left on a contract extension originally signed before the 2015 season.
The Seahawks green-lighted Lynch’s visit to the Raiders facility, though are several steps remaining before Lynch becomes a Raiders employee.
Seattle would likely want to trade Lynch’s rights, though sources have said the Raiders are loathe to give up draft picks. The Seahawks don’t appear to have room for his $9 million salary under their current budget, meaning they could simply release him outright if the Raiders balk at a trade.
Either way, Seattle isn't expected to be an obstacle in Lynch coming to Oakland. Seahawks general manager John Schneider told ESPN Radio 710 in Seattle that Lynch wants to return and that transferring Lynch's rights to the Raiders would be easy given his strong relationship with Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie. Schneider and McKenzie worked together in Green Bay.
"Marshawn is trying to figure things out. The Raiders are trying to figure things out," Schneider said. "My understanding is that, if he did want to come play, it would be for the Raiders, that’s it."
Even in the off chance a trade occurs, Lynch would have to re-negotiate his deal in Oakland.
The Raiders certainly need a bruising back like Lynch, but must feel confident he’s a solid fit in the organization. NFL Network reported Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio's opinion is key to this process. His meeting with Del Rio and other coaches went well, sources say, a vital step in bringing Lynch to Oakland. Lynch is certainly an on-field fit, even at 30 years old. He is a powerful, yet versatile back who would be an excellent scheme fit, especially running behind the Raiders’ hulking offensive line.
Landing Lynch would be a huge coup from a business perspective, especially after the Raiders were approved for relocation to Las Vegas last week. The Silver and Black plan to play in the Bay Area the next two, possibly three, seasons and Lynch would be a huge draw for Oakland Raiders fans. He champions his hometown whenever possible and is active in the community.